Is 2016 the Year of Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation was one of the hottest topics of 2015 and the source of many heated discussions amongst marketing professionals.

Whilst some professionals see marketing automation as the holy grail of an evolving industry, others still see it as a cold and impersonal way of doing business. And both parties are right.

When it’s done well, marketing automation can work wonders for the growth of a business. But when it’s not done well, it can have the opposite effect.

Fortunately, it seems that 2016 will be the year where businesses really start to get to grips with the marketing automation process, and learn how to make it work for their businesses rather than against them. In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Ascend2, 42% of businesses are now using marketing automation – which is a massive jump up from previous years.

Here are a few reasons why I believe 2016 is the year that marketing automation will really take off:

Increased Knowledge/Understanding

In early 2015, businesses became more aware that they needed marketing automation – but not all of them were sure why they needed it, or what to do wiith it. However, this has changed alot over the course of the past few months as businesses have developed a better understanding of exactly what marketing automation entails.

This will lead to more and more smaller businesses getting on board in 2016 as they become more confident in their investment.

Better Implementation

Getting marketing automation set up is a lot of work, and some companies just don’t have the time or resources for it – especially if they’ve blown their budget on a pricey product.

However, as companies begin to understand the importance of proper implementation, they’ll see a much better return on their investment and begin to really understand what can be achieved with marketing automation.

2016 will see the rise of third party companies offering to manage the implementation process, and perhaps even see better offerings emerge from the software providers themselves (we’ll talk more about this later), thus making life much easier for companies who want to get on board.

Pricing: More Accessible For SMEs

One of the main issues with marketing automation in 2015 was the associated cost and this was especially true for small businesses.

Many of the major marketing automation providers expect a 12 month commitment and payment up-front – which is a massive issue for smaller businesses who can’t afford to invest in something without trying it out first.

in 2015, larger enterprises had no problem with forking out for new systems, proper implementation processes, and ongoing management – but smaller companies didn’t really have the luxury of that extra spend. This meant that many SMEs spent all of their budget on the software and then didn’t follow through with proper staff training and implementation in order to get solid processes in place.

However, this is changing rapidly as new providers emerge with software options that specifically target smaller businesses. These new software solutions don’t ask for sign up fees, don’t tie companies into long term contracts, and allow for monthly payments. In fact, some of them are free. Click here to check out our list of 12 Free Or Cheap Marketing Automation Systems.

The Transition To Software + Service

Bots can’t run the world… Yet. So the move to a more service oriented solution for marketing automation is pretty inevitable in 2016. Automation isn’t the endgame solution to marketing a business; it’s simply a tool for professionals to utilize in order to make their work more effective.

If businesses want their marketing automation processes to actually work, then they have to ensure that there’s an actual person running the show – and that person has to know what they’re doing. If they don’t, there’s little point to using the software at all.

2016 is definitely going to see more of a focus on how this software is implemented and on ensuring an adequate return on investment for companies. There are already a number of third party providers who will manage the implementation process for businesses, but perhaps 2016 will see software providers themselves providing an added service option in this regard.

Either way, marketing automation is on the rise and there’s an interesting year ahead.

What do you think is on the cards for marketing automation in 2016? Why not let us know in the comments section below.